10 December 2019

Highway reopens on south coast, Kings remains closed

| Michael Weaver
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Currowan fire

State Emergency Service volunteers from Batemans Bay work to clear fallen trees at Benandarah, north of Batemans Bay. Photo: Batemans Bay SES.

The Princes Highway between Batemans Bay and Ulladulla has reopened as residents in the area begin returning to their homes, despite the Currowan fire continuing to burn out of control in some areas.

The highway reopened shortly after 8:00 pm last night (9 December), having been closed in both directions last Friday (6 December).

A reduced speed limit of 80 km/h is also in place, with a further speed restriction of 40 km/h at Termeil due to fallen trees and damage to infrastructure in the area. Access to Termeil remains closed.

Roads into the coastal towns of Durras, Bawley Point and Kioloa have also reopened, with residents asked to take extra precautions when driving.

The NSW Rural Fire Service’s south coast public liaison officer, Phil Patterson, said residents of Bawley Point and Kioloa who choose to return may do so, but need to remain aware of conditions and be prepared to act decisively if circumstances change.

The Kings Highway remains closed between Braidwood and Nelligen, with no word on when it may reopen. There are reports of fallen trees on the road, with State Emergency Service teams working to clear the road as soon as possible.

The Araluen Road between Braidwood and Moruya also remains closed due to backburning operations which are impacting on the safety of the road.

Mr Patterson has confirmed that 11 properties were destroyed by the Currowan fire. Specific locations of these properties have not been released, other than that they are on both sides of the Princes Highway.

Six firefighters sustained injuries that required further treatment, while a further two were treated for minor injuries while fighting the blaze that has now burned more than 80,000 hectares.

The RFS says the fire remains at advice level and continues to burn in a northerly direction, predominately on the western side of the Princes Highway towards the Morton National Park. Fire activity on the eastern side of the Princes Highway has eased; however, active areas of fire continue to burn.

“Conditions are expected to deteriorate on Tuesday. This may see the fire spread to the east and north following a southerly change,” Mr Patterson said.

“There is also still some active fire in the areas around Benandarah, Windywoppa, Currowan and other areas on the northern side of the Kings Highway.

“The fire may occasionally flare up in areas of unburnt fuel around Lake Tabourie, Bawley Point, Kioloa, Pretty Beach, Pebbly Beach, Depot Beach, Durras North and South Durras.

“Patrols are doing limited tactical backburning as required and they will also do some direct attack water-bombing on the active firefront on the Yadboro Road and Woodburn Road.”

Mr Patterson said if you are in an area that has already been affected by fire, there may be small areas of active fire burning for some time.

The Princes Highway shows the scars of the Currowan fire. Photo: Josh Burkinshaw Images.

A number of national parks, including campgrounds in the Murramarang National Park, remain closed. Further information is available on the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service website.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a strong wind warning this morning for waters between the Hunter and Eden coastlines as a southerly change moves into the area today.

Southerly winds will reach 15 to 25 knots, before increasing to 20 to 30 knots during the afternoon and evening. The change will continue into early Wednesday before stalling and weakening.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons today said, so far this season, fires in NSW have now burnt out 2.7 million hectares with a perimeter of 19,235 kilometres. There are 85 fires burning, of which 42 are uncontained. Around 2700 firefighters are in the field.

Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.

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Sandra Doyle10:14 pm 10 Dec 19

Where is the army? Is this not a national crisis?

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